Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you.(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)
Emerald Bay was the top recommendation of our host when we asked for the best spot to visit for a day during our weekend getaway in Lake Tahoe. She said Emerald Bay is the most photographed place in Lake Tahoe. Without a doubt, we ask for instructions on how to go to Emerald Bay and other tips.
In this post, we will provide tips and photo inspiration of Emerald Bay so you can have a perfect day in Lake Tahoe with your family and friends.
Emerald Bay is the only bay in Lake Tahoe. It is also where the Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe, is located.
Fannette Island has a miniature castle that is the tea house of the owner of the Vikingsholm Castle. Only the ruins of the tea house settled on Fannette Island.
Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm are located at the Emerald Bay State Park. The park is open from 7 AM to 7 PM daily with no entrance fees for visitors. Portable restrooms are also available in the park.
Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the Emerald Bay State Park except in the campground and must be on a 6′ leash. Drones are also not allowed.
How to go to Emerald Bay State Park
From South Lake Tahoe, follow Highway 89 north. If you are from Tahoe City, follow Highway 89 south to go to the Emerald Bay State Park.
Parking along the road is free but it can easily fill up so it is best to go to Emerald Bay State Park early.
Alternatively, you can park in the Eagle Falls Trailhead Area or Vikingsholm Parking Lot. Parking at the Eagle Falls Trailhead Area is at $5 while $3 for 1 hour or $10 for the whole day in Vikingsholm Parking Lot.
Both parking lots are open from sunrise to sunset and self-pay when outside of the summer months. You can choose one place to park because all the tourist spots are walkable.
Best time to visit the Emerald Bay State Park
The best time to visit Emerald Bay State Park is from March to May and from September to November. Prices drop during these months in the spring and fall. Crowds are also fewer from March to May.
Summer is the most popular time to visit the park but crowds multiply as so are the prices.
Although the park is open during winter, there might be times that Highway 89 is closed depending on road conditions. Despite the season, the park can still be crowded especially during weekends. Expect the prices to rise as well.
What to expect in the Emerald Bay State Park
Expect breathtaking panoramic views of the Emerald Bay. Fannette Island in the middle of the Emerald Bay is enclosed by sparkling blue water. The Emerald Bay is surrounded by granite cliffs and tall pine trees making it the most Instagrammable spot in Lake Tahoe.
These are the photos we took during the summer. We hope these photos are enough to inspire you to visit the Emerald Bay.
Where to go and what to do
Aside from the panoramic views, the Emerald Bay State Park is home to several interesting spots and activities.
Located 600 meters above Lake Tahoe, the Inspiration Point is the best spot to view the Emerald Bay, Fannette Island, and everything else!
From the Inspiration Point, the trailhead of the Eagle Falls is about 1.6 kilometers away. It is a short but steep hike to a picturesque view of water flowing down on a granite cliff surrounded by pine trees.
If you want to continue hiking to the Eagle Lake, obtain your wilderness day hike permit at the Eagle Falls trailhead. The Eagle Lake trail will lead you to the heart of the Desolation Wilderness, a protected area in El Dorado County.
From the Eagle Falls, head towards the end of the bay to the Vikingsholm Castle. The Vikingsholm is a mansion overlooking the Emerald Bay and Fannette Island.
Guided tours for $10 are available from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Tourists are allowed to go around the outside of Vikingsholm but only those who hired a guide will be allowed inside.
Vikingsholm is open from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM daily.
Click to book your Vikingsholm Castle Tours.
Kayak and paddleboard
You can visit Fannette island by paddling a kayak or by booking a boat tour. While you don’t need to book a tour to go around the Emerald Bay State Park, you need to book paddleboard or kayak tours.
Kayak Tahoe is near the Vikingsholm. Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis so it recommended booking your tours in advance especially during the peak season.
Click to book your kayak and paddle board tours in Lake Tahoe with Get Your Guide or click below.
Single Kayak and paddleboard rental start at $25 for an hour to $65 for the whole day while the double kayak is at $35 to $85.
End your day tour by dipping and relaxing at the beach. The beach is quaint and has soft golden sand. A visit to the beach is free, however, it may be difficult to find a parking slot during the peak season.
Eagle Point Campground is open from late May until the middle of September. Reservations must be made 6 months prior to your arrival.
Where should I stay when visiting Lake Tahoe?
AirBnB: Private room in a house that has a bunk and a double bed. The stay includes breakfast, free parking, and use of the recreational area that has a sauna, swimming pool, ping pong, and a pool table.
Read our post about our Airbnb stay in Lake Tahoe.
Inn: Black Jack Inn offers affordable accommodations in a perfect location. The property is a 3-minute walk from Heavenly Village and a 5-minute from the Stateline Casino.
Hotel: Black Bear Lodge is a cozy, beautifully designed cabin that offers the best hotel experience in Lake Tahoe. All rooms have a fireplace and a hot tub.
Resort: The Landing Resort and Spa is a beachfront property loved by couples. It has a restaurant, a spa, and located near the Heavenly Village Ski Resort.
And that’s how you can enjoy a day in Lake Tahoe (except if you will be camping). If you only have a day to go around the lake, choose the best spot! Visit Emerald Bay!
Tips when planning your trip
Car Rental: Book the best prices and services with Rentalcars.com
And don’t forget travel insurance with World Nomads!
What to pack
Reusable Water Bottle: Nalgene
Immune Support: Airborne Chewables
Comfortable Walking Shoes: ON Sneakers
Waterproof Action Camera: GoPro Hero 7 White